Tell us about your life before writing...
I am the eldest of seven children, and I was born in 1949, in a flat over a florist’s in New Ferry, on the Wirral, Merseyside. For the first fourteen years of my life, I lived on a council estate in Ellesmere Port, then Dad moved us to the posher end of town, Whitby. At nineteen, I married a local boy, emigrated to South Africa for four years, but then returned to the Wirral and settled in Bebington. At 45, I sold my businesses, took early retirement, and moved to the Greek island of Crete. Four years ago, I moved to a plot on the island of Rhodes. I lived in a log cabin on the land while we built a lovely house on the beach.
What do you write about?
My stories are always inspired by real-life historical events. Stories of injustice that involve women who struggle but eventually triumph. I combine this with the intense emotions we all feel, but too often keep buried. I am intrigued by the secrets people keep. Also, there is love. The need to feel loved; our love for others; and the power of women - these are recurring themes at the heart of my narratives.
I am fascinated by the twists and turns of fate and how they shape the paths that people follow. Also, I think people only realise how much their parents love them when they are mature themselves and their children have grown and moved away, either physically or emotionally, directing their own love to their partners and children. I think the greatest tragedy in life is not to love someone.
I love the warmth here, and the openness of the Greek people, especially on the islands, and particularly Crete. They, the people, are a constant source of inspiration. Also, I have to live near the sea, and living on a relatively small island makes that possible. I enjoy the simple life, wholesome fresh food, and the clean air. The light is wonderful here, especially for painting and photography. The wildlife is also amazing and I enjoy photographing the birds, butterflies, incredible insects and colourful lizards. My garden is scruffy and wild, and planted to support every kind of flora and fauna; and I get so much enjoyment from it.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
For me, being very dyslexic, writing is hard work; but I’m a story teller, and I love entertaining people. My favourite part of producing a novel is the research. Facts are fascinating! Quite often, the personal accounts from people that I interview differs greatly from the ‘official’ facts that I find on the web. In that case, I prefer to use my interviewee’s accounts. Some reviewers forget that a novel is a work of fiction and they seem to want a documentary.
People are so interesting, I really do enjoy listening to them tell of their experiences and adventures. Inspiration springs from the most unlikely sources, and I have a head full of stories that are queuing up to hit the keyboard. I enjoy the birth of my characters, discovering the difference between them, and developing those differences — understanding their strengths and weakness. I must have a range of players from the deeply moving matriarch, to the slightly self-centred youngster. It’s important for the reader to identify with someone in the story, that’s what draws them in and keeps them hooked.
What do you want readers to get from your novels?
For me, the most important thing is that there are moments in the story that stay with my readers long after the last page. Visual imprints, or emotional points. I hope my readers feel differently about certain things that perhaps they hadn’t thought about before. For example: with our busy lives, we tend to see our very elderly neighbours as old folk, nothing more. We don’t consider their life experiences, we don’t wonder if they themselves have saved or taken lives, struggled and triumphed. We don’t consider that perhaps we could learn a lot from them if we took the time to listen to their stories.
Also, young teens have the potential for such greatness and I feel we must support and develop that instinct to take on the world, rather than let them shift it to gaming. In the end, I hope my readers look at the people around them and perhaps and see them in a new light. After all, we are all unique in our own way.
How do you choose the dedication?